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How to Stop Emotional Eating: 9 Coping Strategies You Can Practice Right Now

Learn how to stop emotional eating with these 9 coping strategies that you can practice right now. Take control of your emotional triggers and develop a healthier relationship with food.

Wondering How to Stop Emotional Eating? Try These 9 Coping Strategies You Can Practice Right Now.

If you’re struggling with emotional eating, try incorporating these strategies to help you overcome the habit.

1. Plan Healthy Snacks

If you know emotional eating is something you struggle with, have healthy snacks readily available to avoid reaching for unhealthy options. Try to include protein, fat and fiber. This magical trifecta will help you feel full and satisfied and stabilize your blood sugar levels. We have plenty of ideas for you in this article: 70+ Simple Snack Ideas for Kids and Adults!

2. Pause and Reflect

Before eating, take a moment to evaluate whether you’re genuinely hungry or if there’s an underlying emotional trigger driving the urge. If it’s due to emotional reasons, identify the emotion causing the urge, for instance, stress from parenting or excitement from accomplishing a work goal. Identifying the emotion behind the urge is the crucial first step.

3. Feel Your Emotions without Judgment

By granting yourself the freedom to fully experience your emotions, you’re reducing the likelihood of resorting to food as a way to cope. It’s a way of allowing yourself to feel the emotion without self-criticism or judgment.

4. Breathe Deeply

Take a few deep belly breaths to calm your nerves and refocus your mind. (Breathe in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand, then exhale through your mouth, gently deflating your belly.)

5. Drink a Glass of Water

At times, you might mistake thirst for hunger. Drink a full glass of water to eliminate dehydration as a potential cause and to assist in reducing your craving.

6. Distract Yourself

Try to divert your attention from food. You could go for a short walk, even if it’s just to get a glass of water; try a quick guided meditation tailored to your trigger (such as stress, boredom or sadness); run an errand; chew gum; suck on a mint; or use a fidget toy or stress ball. We understand that it’s not always possible, so do what you can.

If you tend to use food as a reward for your achievements, such as meeting a work goal or sticking to your exercise routine, try brainstorming alternative ways to treat yourself that don’t involve eating. Consider purchasing a new workout tank, indulging in shower steamers for relaxation or investing in an item that supports and promotes a healthier lifestyle.

7. Share Your Feelings with a Supportive Friend

Talk to a friend, family member or someone you trust when you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Sharing your feelings can bring relief without resorting to food.

8. Practice Mindfulness When Eating

Mindful eating involves being fully present while you eat. If you can’t curb the craving and you reach for food, pay attention to the flavors, textures and smells of your food as you eat it. This practice can help you distinguish between physical hunger and emotional cravings and will help you feel more satisfied.

9. Cultivate Self-Compassion

Show yourself kindness and recognize that everyone experiences moments of emotional eating. Take time to understand why you slipped without judging yourself. Was it triggered by stress or sadness?

Reflect on what worked in handling the situation and consider what you might do differently next time.

One thing we often hear is, “This is more challenging than I expected.” Keep in mind that a setback doesn’t equal failure. Instead, view it as a chance to learn and move closer to your goals.

Time and Practice

Similar to gradually building up muscle strength, breaking the habit of emotional eating takes time and consistent practice. The key is to become more aware of your triggers and develop healthier ways to cope with emotions.

  1. Plan healthy snacks
  2. Identify the emotion behind the urge
  3. Feel the emotion without judgement
  4. Take a few deep belly breathes
  5. Drink a glass of water
  6. Distract yourself
  7. Share your feelings with someone you trust
  8. Practice mindful eating (with every meal and snack)
  9. Offer yourself grace and reflect on what worked and what you could do differently

Moving Forward

If you often struggle with emotional eating, consider keeping a food diary to log your emotions and eating patterns. This can help you recognize recurring patterns and triggers that lead to emotional eating. By gaining this valuable insight, you can regain control over your behavior and become more self-reliant.

If you’re ready to take it to the next level, our master class, Break Free from Emotional Eating is an excellent option to explore.

Alternatively, consulting with a therapist or counselor who specializes in emotional eating can also serve as an excellent approach to breaking this habit and improving your overall well-being.

Taking the path toward positive change is something you can begin at any point in your life. The first step on this journey is developing self-awareness, and by reading this, you’re already one step closer to achieving it.

Let's improve our relationship with food—together!

Cheers to a healthy lifestyle and living FULLforLife!
xo, Pam & Kalie

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Hi beautiFULL, We’re Pam and Kalie

If you want your family to live a healthier life, you’ve come to the right place! Our simple wellness practices have been handed down for three generations and are the secret weapon to staying healthy and sane.

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